Montgomery Zoo to inaugurate herd of Nile lechwe bachelors

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) – The Montgomery Zoo will debut four male Nile lechwe, the first of their kind, in the African Forest exhibit next week.

The lechwe, named Zap, Sjambok, Rungu and Kaskara, make up the bachelor herd, according to the zoo. They will make their debut on Tuesday.

“The Nile Lechwe is unlike any ungulate Montgomery Zoo has ever housed before,” Animal Care Manager Andi Clason said in a statement. “Their behavior, adaptations and unique appearance make them a wonderful addition to the African forest zone. They are equipped to be semi-aquatic and use every bit of their new habitat. We are proud to host this herd of singles and look forward to the opportunity to pique guest interest in them as well.

The four lechwe were transferred from White Oak Conservation Facility in Yulee, Florida.

The Nile lechwe are antelopes whose name translates from the Bantu as “Nile antelope”. According to zoo officials, the species inhabits hot, humid climates in Africa, such as the Bahr-el-Ghazel district in South Sudan and the Machar Gambella swamps in Ethiopia. Due to these climates, the species fits perfectly into the exposure of the African forest which has shade and water for its animal to swim.

They will join the zoo’s Eastern Bongos, Red-sided Duiker and East African Crowned Crane in the African Forest exhibit.

Young lechwe naturally group together in small bachelor herds. Zoo officials say they hope to create a breeding environment for the species in the future. No current breeding plans are underway.

The Nile lechwe is listed as an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. It is estimated that there are between 30,000 and 40,000 in their native lands.

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